Barcelona – Not what I expected

intaBarcelona is a modern flat city of 5 and 6 story buildings laid out on a grid of wide streets. In May the weather was pleasantly warm with low humidity. Whilst the dark lounge-suits made it easy to find other INTA participants and to blend into the crowd, I suspect light cotton slacks and tee shirts would have been more comfortable.

barcelonaBarcelona is a great place for a holiday, but maybe less successful for a conference. A lot of the Israeli convention crowd on the plane out were accompanied by their spouses, as I was. This seemed to be true of practitioners from other countries as well.  My wife enjoyed a week’s holiday.

I found the city to be an eye-opener. I had thought of Barcelona as being part of Spain and expected to hear Spanish. I thought that football was a game. I was aware of the Spanish Inquisition as being an institution against Jews and Jewish Conversos. I discovered that the Catalonians have a different language and identity. That football is a nationalist religion and that the inquisition was also against Moslems. I had always thought of St George, the dragon slayer as being English, but discovered that the Catalans see him as one of their own. It seems that as in Middle Ages, there is again a Moorish immigration from Africa. There were a lot of peddlers on la Rambla, however these quickly disappeared as the police arrived.

NOBODY EXPECTSThere is an urban legend that ham became the Spanish national dish to help the Inquisition sniff out conversos that continued to practice Judaism or Islam in secret.  I do not know whether this is historically true but bacon and ham was in evidence everywhere; in dedicated butcher shops, in the markets, in many restaurants and at INTA receptions.

We saw lots of children in strollers and playing in the small playgrounds that dotted the residential areas. The streets were clean, and though we saw some graffiti, it was less in evidence than in other European cities. Very many Barcelonan residents seemed to have dogs of recognizable breeds. On the other hand, we didn’t see cats or rats in the street. In addition to a lot of pigeons, migrant bird species that also plague Israel, including ring-necked and monk parakeets were very much in evidence.

On registration, we receiMETROved a four-day pass for the Metro and buses. This was useful. Particularly as I discovered that business cards didn’t work on the turnstiles for the Metro, and the buses didn’t accept them either.

The metro is good, but access required negotiating lots of flights of stairs. This was particularly difficult with suitcases, but even without, was fairly tiring. There were buses, but because a lot of Barcelona is oe way streets, I seemed to keep finding the bus stop for buses in the wrong direction, with the stop for buses going the other way, nowhere in sight.

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